RF Shorts for July 25, 2014

Project Loon Balloons Approach Australia Leon Spencer, at ZDNet.com reports that three Google Project Loon helium balloons were spotted drifting towards the east coast of Australia on July 19 in his article Sydney sees Project Loon drift.

A Google spokesperson told ZDNet that: "No balloons are being launched from Australia; they're all coming from the South Island of New Zealand right now."

The balloons were tracked using their ADS-B signals. These signals can be received on $20 USB dongles using a software defined radio.

Spencer writes: "According to Hutchison, webmaster of 16Right ADSB, whose ground station picked up the balloons' transmission signals, the Google balloons were traveling at an altitude of 65,000 feet when they were spotted, and were the new generation ADS-B balloons, and were transmitting their position data."

The article reported that the project’s goal "is to establish uninterrupted connectivity around the 40th southern latitudinal parallel, with the aim of allowing pilot testers at this latitude to receive continuous service coverage via 'balloon-powered Internet'."

(The 40th southern parallel intersects Argentina, Chile, New Zealand's North Island and Australia's Tasmania.")

‘The Register’ Offers 5G Overview

TheRegister.co.uk writer Richard Chirgwin spoke to Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz of Macquarie University to learn more about 5G technologies. In the article All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on – Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world he writes: "The 5G arms race has commenced, but beneath the dueling 'my 5G is faster than your 5G' demos, there's serious work going on—and whatever the future of 5G, that work will change the future of mobility one way or the other."

The article covers MIMO, spectrum sharing, antenna technologies and power consumption. Dutkiewicz outlines the problems that arise in each of these areas, along with a description of the current research going on to solve those problems.

Outlining some of the difficulties in designing antennas for 5G radios, Chirgwin writes: "Antennas are also big in the research. After all, take a look at what's coming: massive MIMO, millimeter-wave technologies, and handsets that might have to deal with base stations communicating at a bunch of different wavelengths."

Dutkiewicz mentioned that 5G antennas are a key research priority, with this hopefully leading to wideband, intelligent, and self-configuring antennas. Chirgwin concludes: "So there will be lots and lots of patents to come out of researchers working out how to do all of this—without needing to attach phones to brick-sized batteries—before 5G becomes the all-gigabit all-the-time reality that engineers are dreaming about."

Comments and RF related news items are welcome. Email me at dlung@transmitter.com.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.